CAMRA unveils ‘Cyclops’

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has launched a way of letting consumers know what beers will taste like before they sample.

Here’s the press release:

Taking lessons from the UK wine industry, CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, and 14 real ale breweries will today launch a new initiative called ‘Cyclops’ at the Great British Beer Festival. ‘Cyclops’ aims to demystify real ale after research showed that 1 in 3 people would try more real ale if its characteristics were made easier to understand in pubs.

Declining beer sales in the UK have brought beer consumers and brewers together to revitalise the market for real ale, Britain’s national pub drink. Following the success of the wine industry to make wine more accessible to all consumers through simple tasting notes Cyclops will use common language to explain what different real ales should look, smell and taste like. Sweetness and bitterness are the two dominant taste qualities of real ale and Cyclops using a scale of 1 to 5 for each enables drinkers to work out how sweet and bitter they like their beers.

The new scheme was the brainchild of David Bremner, Head of Marketing at Everards Brewery in Leicester. Everards pilot scheme aimed to promote its beers to new consumers who may have never tried real ale before or who had only tried a few pints in the past. By using attractive imagery and simplified language, real ales are described on promotional material such as beer mats, posters, tasting cards and pump-clip crowners to inform consumers of what they are buying. This information will also be placed on the back on beer handpulls to keep pub staff informed of what the real ale is like.

Tony Jerome, CAMRA’s Senior Marketing Manager said, “Real ale is an incredibly complex drink with an enormous range of styles and tastes. Cyclops will demystify real ale so drinkers will know what a beer will look, smell and taste like before they part with their cash at the bar.”

Jerome continued, “A great deal of skill and care goes into the brewing of real ale and there are many thousands of dedicated connisseurs and enthusiasts which has led to a whole new and fascinating language behind beer tasting. Research shows, however, that drinkers who are less familiar with real ale want to know in easy to understand terms what the beer tastes like. I am convinced that Cyclops will revitalise the real ale market by enticing younger drinkers, both male and female to try our national drink. They will quickly learn to appreciate its complex flavours and we are confident that they will soon become enthusiasts.”

The new scheme is called ‘Cyclops’ due to the one eye, nose and mouth imagery used on the promotional material. 14 real ale breweries, from across Britain, have already signed up to the campaign and will be using it on their beers in pubs.

The 14 breweries are:

Everards (Leicestershire), Wolverhampton & Dudley Brands (National), Woodforde’s (Norfolk), Camerons (County Durham), Hook Norton (Oxfordshire), Fuller’s (London), Refresh UK (Oxfordshire), Robinson’s (Cheshire), Hall & Woodhouse (Dorset), Elgoods (Cambridgeshire), Wadworth (Wiltshire), Titanic (Stoke on Trent), Charles Wells (Bedfordshire), and Caledonian (Edinburgh).

That’s a good start, but as Americans who have been spoiled by West Coast hop-infused beers know there’s more to hops that bitterness. And there’s certainly more to malt than sweetness.


Beer-swilling pigs spark controversy

That Tasmanian pub with the beer drinking pigs finds itself under fire.

The Associated Press reports:

Pub owner Anne Free said Wednesday she was outraged that the tourist attraction had been attacked as cruel in the latest edition of a magazine published by animal welfare group Choose Cruelty Free.

Free points out the beer is watered down, and that a local animal rights group has already investigated and found the pigs are not mistreated.


City Brewing, Latrobe deal closer

City Brewing took a giant step toward acquiring the Latrobe Brewing facility as union workers approved a new contract.

The basics:

The union voted 113-9 on Sunday to accept a two-year contract with the La Crosse company, said George Sharkey, a union business agent for about 120 of the employees.

“There were concessions, but in the light of things … I didn’t leave the employees much of a choice,” Sharkey said. Members accepted some wage concessions, he said.

Latrobe, owned by Belgium-based InBev SA, has been the brewer of Rolling Rock since 1939, but the brand was bought in May by Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc., which plans to brew and distribute the beer out of New Jersey next month. InBev SA, the world’s largest brewer by volume, has been negotiating with City Brewing over the sale of Latrobe Brewing.

City Brewing now will inspect the Latrobe brewery as part of the due diligence process, City Brewing President Randy Smith said Monday. Completing the due diligence process could take as long as 60 days but more likely will take 30 days, he said.

While much of the attention has turned to the fact that Rolling Rock is new being brewed in New Jersey (though Anheuser-Busch’s labels claim a link to Latrobe).

But let’s not forget it was InBev that decided to sell the Rolling Rock brand and that was ready to shut down the brewery. Yet InBev benefits from the deal, because instead of just shuttering the brewery it will make a little extra money from the deal.


Shmaltz offers Lenny Bruce tribute

Shmaltz Brewing Co. has two new beers to help celebrate its 10th anniversary. From a press release:

RIPA labelBittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A. – Shmaltz commemorates the 40th anniversary of the death of prophetic Jewish comedian Lenny Bruce with the release of Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A. In keeping with Lenny Bruce’s comedic style, this rye-based double IPA is brewed with an obscene amount of malts and hops with shocking flavors, far beyond contemporary community standards. Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A. is the first offering in a new line called “The Shmaltz Tribute to Jewish Stars.”

Genesis 10:10– A radical evolution of the company’s top selling Genesis Ale, Genesis 10:10 offers a huge balance of specialty malts, pounds and pounds of American hops, and is brewed with the juice of over 10,000 luscious Pomegranates. In Jewish tradition, pomegranates symbolize righteousness, appearing throughout Torah as well as in many world cultures.

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Sad days in Latrobe

No matter the outcome of negotiations that would keep the brewery in Latrobe operating, the fact remains that Rolling Rock is gone. Don Russell – Joe Sixpack – visits the town to report on just what that means to the town.

“You think of Latrobe,” said Steve Kittey, editorial director of the town’s daily newspaper, the Latrobe Bulletin, “you think of Rolling Rock beer.”

“It’s like Hershey and chocolate,” said Ed Maher, a Latrobe Brewing employee whose father and grandfather both worked at the town’s famed brewery. “They’re inseparable.”

Were insperable.

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Reports from the beer front

On the beer business front:

– Drinks Americas announced that it has selected package designs submitted by Beacon Branding for the upcoming re-launch of Rheingold Beer. Drinks Americas plans to re-launch Rheingold in Metro New York this coming October. Rheingold Beer has been sold and marketed in New York since 1883 and was acquired by Drinks Americas last October.

In addition to 6, 12 and 24 pack bottles and 6, 12 and 30 pack cans, Rheingold will go to market in a “modern, ultra-chilled designer metallic bottle” and also is looking to reestablish the “Rheingold Chug-a-Mug,” an integral part of the brand’s history.

Heineken proved that $50 million will still buy you something. The Dutch brewer lifted its profit outlook for 2006 after sales of its new Premium Light beer fared better than it originally forecast. The company now expects comparable growth of 10% or better.

It said the successful launch in the U.S. of Heineken Premium Light, with volumes expected above the target of 400,000 hectoliters (84.5 million pints) for the year, was a strong growth driver. Premium Light has been on the market since March, supported by a $50 million marketing budget.

– Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo, maker of top U.S. import Corona, has made Constellation Brands its distributor for the United States and Guam.Constellation now imports Modelo’s Mexican beer portfolio in the U.S. West Coast, and will take over from Modelo’s East Cost distributor Gambrinus.

The Miller-supported Brew Blog notes that although Anheuser-Busch owns half of Modelo it was something of a loser in negotiations since it was reported to be in the running but didn’t close the deal:

. . . rumors swirled that A-B was seeking distribution rights for Corona Extra as part of its “funnel” strategy to bring imports to its restricted wholesalers who have not participated in the import surge.

Brew Blog also reports: “As noted by Beer Marketer’s Insights, the deal will make Barton a much bigger player in the U.S. beer indsutry. Based on 2005 shipments, Barton will be at 10.5 million barrels, compared to 5.1 million barrels before the deal. It will be ‘close to 12 [million] barrels in 2006 at current growth rates. That’s nearly 6 share, [two times] Pabst and vaults Barton to #4 distributor in the U.S. ahead of Heineken USA.’”

The loser, of course, was Gambrinus.


New Jersey Rolling Rock to keep ’33’

Anheuser-Busch has already begun brewing the iconic Rolling Rock beer in its New Jersey brewery and will start shipping its version of the beer in August.

“We are going to retain as much of the history and tradition and heritage of this brand,” said Andy Goeler, vice president of Anheuser-Busch’s import, craft and specialty group.

The company also plans to expand to other brewing locations in the United States, Goeler said.

“There will be virtually no change to the brand at all,” he said. “The whole mission here is to keep all the things we love about the brand and keep things that were very important to us when we went out to purchase the brand.”

The label will retain the enigmatic number “33” at the end of its quality pledge. But the words “St. Louis, Missouri” will be added to the pledge, which will now be preceded by the phrase: “To honor the tradition of this great brand, we quote from the original pledge.”

And while the beer will now be made in New Jersey, the labels will still say: “From the glass-lined tanks of old Latrobe, we tender this premium beer for your enjoyment, as a tribute to your good taste. It comes from the mountain springs to you.”

The water will no longer come from mountain springs, but from the Wanaque Reservoir near Newark, N.J., Goeler said.

While this bit of inaccuracy will rankle those still angry that Rolling Rock is not longer made in Latrobe, and those who just plain don’t like Anhueser-Busch, but Goebel doubts it will affect sales. He said said the taste, packaging “and what the brand reflects” were more important than where it was brewed.


The art of beer

Beer artFrom the press release:

“Ed Kolibab of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Greg Gumberling of Downingtown, Pennsylvania and Ann Castaneira of Steelton, Pennsylvania have been named as the three finalists in The Art of Drinking Troegs Bottle Cap Art Contest. The grand prizewinner will be announced on Saturday, July 29 before regularly scheduled Saturday tours.

” ‘We were very impressed with the caliber of entries this year,’ said Chris Trogner. ‘This is one contest that people continue to ask about year-round, so our goal is to make the contest an annual event. Next year, we will kick off the contest with the release of Nugget Nectar in early February and it will conclude on June 1.’ ”

Take a look at all the finalists.


For the record: Coors DUI

You are going to read this every where. Coors executive Pete Coors was cited in May for driving under the influence of alcohol after leaving a friend’s wedding celebration.

Coors was driving a 2004 Jaguar when he was pulled over by a Colorado State Patrol trooper just before midnight May 29, according to officials in the Jefferson County District Court clerk’s office.

He was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence and cited for failing to obey a traffic control device.

Coors rolled through a stop sign a block from his home and was stopped by the officer in his driveway, company spokeswoman Kabira Hatland said. She said his blood-alcohol content following a breath test was 0.088 percent, above the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

How would you feel if you rolled a stop sign late a night – in our small (some would say sleepy town) we know to be very careful at stop signs any time after dark – got stopped in your own driveway and then test just over the legal limit (a limit many argue is too low)?


Beer alert: Coming to a shelf near you

News of beers you should be looking for now, or may want to look for soon:

Otter Creek’s “Holy Otter” features monk otters on the label of this beer brewed in the Belgian tripel style. The beer is part of the Otter Creak World Tour series. Next up, and due in September, will be a traditional Finnish “Sahti” – a golden ale brewed with rye and juniper berries. A press release says Otter Creek’s version will be “creamily malty with a gin-like bitterness.”

Anniversary PilsnerDeschutes Brewery celebrates its 18th anniversary by bottling its 2005 Great American Beer Festival gold medal winning European-Style Pilsner previously known as Pine Mountain Pils. The beer is part of the Bond Street Series and packaged in 22-ounce bottles. It packs a sturdy hop punch, but still has the delicate, floral character that helps make German pilsners a dependable summer refresher.

– The first release of cave-aged Three Philosophers Ale from Brewery Ommegang is set for late September. The Cooperstown, N.Y., brewery has been aging beer in nearby Howe Caverns for seven years, starting with Hennepin and later adding Ommegang Ale.

“In what has become an annual tradition, Brewery Ommegang has several of their Belgian-style Ales resting 156-feet below the earth’s surface in the Caverns,” said Howe Caverns General Manager John D. Sagendorf.

Ommegang put 40 cases of Three Philosophers to rest in the caves at a constant 52 ºF last year. It recently laid down 280 cases of Ommegang Abbey Ale, to be released in January 2007.

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World Cup lifts German beer sales

The World Cup left German brewers feeling optimistic about growth after they worked around the clock to keep up with demand during the month-long tournament.

Birte Kleppien from the German Beer Brewers’ association said while the industry had expected to do well from the World Cup, the wave of national euphoria that accompanied Germany’s progress to the semi-finals had provided an unexpected boost.

“And then there have been other things, too,” she said. “For example we never expected the English to descend en masse on the breweries in Cologne and show a real liking for the local beer — even though it’s served in small glasses.”

But with demand slipping every year, brewery operators understand their work is ahead of them.

“The brewing industry didn’t do anything for its image for years,” said Joerg Schillinger of InBev. “A lot of young people see beer as a drink for old guys with beer bellies. The industry must be more innovative and pay more attention to what consumers want to drink.”

Sound familiar?


Why organic beer?

Don Russell puts its this way in his weekly Joe Sixpack column:

You don’t drink organic beer because it’s healthier for you than conventional beer.

You drink it because it makes you feel better about your choices as just another depersonalized consumer in the world’s mammoth industrialized food production chain, a system that devalues labor, rapes the environment and enriches multinational agriculture conglomerates.

You might also insist that it taste good, but then supporting sustainable agriculture may already make it taste better to you.

Russell then examines if the fact that Anheuser-Busch is testing an organic beer, Wild Hop Lager, means a trend could be emerging. If A-B gets involved in organic then the ingredients available to those looking for organic beers will become much more easy to obtain – and we could see even more organic beers.

Just so they taste good.